Friday, September 28, 2007

Scrap book in progress

I was contacted today by a nice gentleman who is working on creating a huge scrap book that includes the lighthouse's. He hopes to have this added to a museum in Mobile for the public to enjoy! He was asking us to date a few photographs that he will be emailing to us.
More later,
Warren Lee

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Middle Bay Lighthouse Onsite Inspection Made 9/7/2007

Subj: Middle Bay Lighthouse Inspection report Sep 7 2007

You can see All of the Photos made of the lighthouse on this trip and decide about its current condition yourself, by visiting the following link:

Middle Bay Lighthouse Inspection Report Knight Shurden and Warren Lee made a trip out to Mobiles Middle Bay Lighthouse to close the open doors and since we were onsite we did a visual inspection of the lighthouse and photo documented the present condition of the Lighthouse on Sep 7 2007. This narrative documents that trip.It is just my opinion and is unofficial in ever aspect and has not been approved by the Alabama Lighthouse Associations or endorsed by them. While on the lighthouse the U.S. Coast Guard Aid to Navigation Team (ANTS) came by in the channel and challenged us as to what we were doing.We asked them to please close the doors to the lighthouse when they find them open. We have never had to do more than tell them that we are with the ALA on these trips. However It would be great if we had some kind of ID cards to present to them each time.We carried an extension ladder with us and used it to gain access to the lighthouse. The boarding is much safer now with the wooden platform on the North side.We approached and placed the extension ladder on the platform. Secured our bow line to the platform and easily climbed aboard the lighthouse.Winds were SE at 10 and there was no danger of our vessel swinging into the platform or lighthouse.Kudos to the US CG for the platform. For future visits a 16ft extension ladder would be more than long enough for this task. And perhaps 1/2 of a 16ft extension ladder would do.We took a 20ft ladder and it was much more than we needed. I can stand on the platform and reach the walkway with my hands.We arrived at Middle Bay Lighthouse at noon today and remained at the lighthouse for three hours. The general condition of the structure can only be classified as poor. There is much evidence of dry rot and wet rot throughout the structure. Several windows had holes rotted through the windowsills on the exterior of the building.The exterior hand railings are missing in several places and seem to be quite unsound in other places. The exterior walkway is in need of repairs as well. Boards are loose missing and damaged from the effects of the hurricanes.The entire building is in a general state of disrepair and needs immediate attention to these problems. There is rain entering the structure through the hurricane damaged doors and windows and most likely through the roof as well. Several slate roofing tile pieces were found along the perimeter walkway. We did not attempt to unlock the roof hatch and inspect the roof in detail.The aluminum stairs are OK and are inside the structure locked to the floor, the roof hatch remains locked and secure.All window glass is intact although not water tight and in need of resealing in places. and all the windows and doors are now shut. All doors and many windows show signs of not being weather tight and there are signs of water leaking into the lighthouse from the rain.The steel and iron under the lighthouse, are in dire need of a good rust treatment, and need painting or repair. Deterioration can be seen that is significant in some of the beams from heavy rusting. One of the walkway supporting beams is broken in half. One area of the interior floor is raised and may indicate supporting beam displacement in this location as well. We might consider installing additional collision avoidance lighting on the structure. We witnessed barge traffic outside of the ship channel passing the lighthouse to the East side while we were there.If this is common practice this would place the lighthouse right in the middle of barge traffic. The push was two barges long and laden with coal. They passed less than one hundred yards to the East to the lighthouse.One of the diagonal braces on the eastern most side of the lighthouse is broken and missing, several other braces show evidence of being damaged by the ropes that boats use when tying off to them. Piles could be installed in a circle around the lighthouse and stainless or galv cable could be ran through them to prevent this kind of damage from occurring. Boaters could secure their boats to the cables preventing damage to the lighthouse.This historic structure has been reported to be one of four of its kind left in the United States. A rare and endangered resource that is worthy of saving. Perhaps a keeper could be retained to live at the structure during the spring, summer and fall and serve as caretaker and repairman until such time as the lighthouse is in proper shape.We took 226 photographs documenting this trip, I can make any of these available on CD or via Email if needed.Summary of work that is apparently needed.Remove paint from exterior and repair rotten wood around all doors and windows, Caulk all exterior doors and windows, prime and paint.Repair walk ways, reattach loose areas, prime and paint top and bottom.Remove, replace what remains of the hand rail system. Paint the new railings 1 coat primer, two coats finish.Sweep interior of structure.Remove layers of paint from all interior surfaces, repair dry rot, wet rot areas through out. Prime and paintInstall new anodes on lighthouse.Install solar powered collision markers on structure. One per sideInspect roof, repair missing slates.Repair rotten wood on eaves caulk prime and paint.Repair davit supports that are bent by heating and straightening, then reattach them to the lighthouse. Caulk and seal the entry points.I would estimate that at least twenty cases of caulking are needed to recaulk this building properly perhaps more. (200+ tubes)The grinding off of a lot of the old paint is needed both inside and out due to the many layers of peeling paint.The thickness of the supporting piles needs to be documented and tracked so that they are not allowed to reach the point where we will lose the structure during a hurricane. Have we done this yet?This should give all of us some idea of the general condition of the structure at this time. We were not prepared to remain at the lighthouse long enough to create a full and complete list.The rotten wood on the outside around the windows and doors, rotten eaves, and exterior caulking and painting appear to be the most critical to the lighthouse's longevity. Followed by treating the rust on the supporting beams under the lighthouse and painting them.
Warren Lee

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Keepers fondest memory : getting a radio!

Source\Book:Instructions to Light-Keepers and Masters of Light-Vessels, 1902

"Notice. Office of the Light-House Board, Washington, D.C., March 1, 1902. The following instructions are published for the guidance of light-keepers and masters of light-house vessels. They are required to read them carefully and attentively, and to refer to them whenever they have any doubts in regard to their duties or the manner of performing them. Each keeper and assistant keeper will be furnished with a copy, to be kept and used at the light-stations where they are employed; to be handed over to their successors when they are relieved or discharged or left at the light-stations in case there should be no successors. Each master of a light-house vessel will be provided with two copies, for the use of himself and crew. By order of the Light-House Board: Norman H. Faruhar, Rear Admiral, U.S.N., Chairman."
Cutting, removing or injuring trees.
(This is SHORTENED since it goes on and on and on...) This type of language is dedicated in detail to each type of property such as gates, boats, buoy, sea wall, pier, livestock (yes, some locations had livestock to raise.) etc.
"If any person or persons shall knowingly and unlawfully cut, or shall knowingly aid, assist, or be employed in unlawfully cutting, or shall wantonly destroy or injure, or procure to be wantonly destroyed or injured, any timber tree or any shade tree, or any other kind of tree, standing, growing, or being upon any lands of the United States, which, in pursuance of law, have been reserved, or which have been purchased by the United States ..(took some stuff out here).. for every such offence, pay a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or shall be imprisoned not exceeding twelve months."
How to take oil from store rooms & record expenditures
Note: If you have ever climbed up the stairs of a tower, imagine doing it with a heavy can of oil every single day.
"...Keepers who have no assistants are required to take from the oil and store rooms, daily, the necessary articles and quantities of supplies for that day's use. At the time of doing so they must enter them correctly in the expenditure book."
Lighthouses & vessels are supplied oil & matches
I don't quite understand why it is so important only to use matches provided by the Light-House Establishment.
"Oil and matches are supplied by the Light-House Establishment; no other shall be used at light-stations or on board light-house vessels."
Women and children not to reside at isolated stations or on light-vessels
At isolated stations, where there are two or more keepers, no women or children will be allowed to reside, unless by special permission previously obtained. No women will be permitted to reside on a light-vessel under any circumstances.
Vessel Master responsible for Treatment of officers and crew
"The masters will be held accountable for treatment of other officers and crews under their commands. They will see that all on board are properly cared for; that they are not stinted in water of good, wholesome quality for drinking and cooking purposes; that provisions are regularly and properly served out; that they are allowed to have their meals at regular times, and are not hurried or interrupted during proper meal times; that they are not worked an excessive number of hours during the day; that they are allowed all reasonable time for recreation, amusement, and exercise ashore and afloat..."
"The men are not allowed to sleep in wet clothes or hammocks; but in case of getting wet in landing supplies or by rain, as soon as they return to the vessel they must be required to shift their clothes."
"Men before leaving the vessel in the morning in boats, should have their breakfast, including hot coffee; or if not breakfast, at any rate a pot of hot coffee, with bread"
Salute to Government vessels
"Keepers of light stations and masters of light vessels provided with bells shall salute, with three strokes of the bell, light-house and Government Vessels (as well as any vessel which is known by the keeper to have on board any person entitled to the courtesy of a salute) upon their approach to and departure from such stations and vessels. The salute will be returned with three blasts of the whistle or by three strokes of the bell. In case the bell has no inside clapper which can be rung by hand, the connecting rod to the machine should be detached before using the striker for salutes."
Table of weekly provisions per man for vessels of the Light-House Establishment.
Beef (Corned)\1 Pound
Pork\ 2 pounds
Codfish\1 pound
Mutton\1 pound
Bacon\1 pound
Ham\1 pound
Flour\1 pound
Pilot Bread\2 pounds
Rice\¼ pound
Corn Meal\½ pound
Oatmeal\¼ pound
Beans\1 pint
Pease (Split)\½ pound
Potatoes\12 pounds
Onions\2 pounds
Sugar\2 pounds
Molasses\½ pound
Coffee\7 ounces
Tea\1¾ ounces
Butter\8 ounces
Vinegar\½ pint
Pickles\½ pound
Tomatoes (can)\8 ounces
Corn (can)\8 ounces
Apples (evaporated)\2 ounces
Peaches (dried)\2 ounces
Raisins\1 ounce
Salt\6 ounces
Pepper\¼ ounce
Mustard\¼ ounce
Baking Powder\¼ ounce
Table of annual allowance per man for light-stations and fog-signal stations.
Pork\200 pounds
Beef\100 pounds
Flour\1 barrel
Rice\25 pounds
Beans\10 gallons
Potatoes\4 bushels
Onions\1 bushel
Sugar\50 pounds
Coffee\24 pounds
Vinegar\4 gallons
How to paint and colors to use
"In using the brush, where there is sufficient space, long strokes should be employed to extend the color in a smooth and uniform manner; where the space is contracted or rough, the paint should be laid on in dabs, for the purpose of getting it into the recesses and places where the surface is unequal."
Outside colors
Dark red
For Wooden structures.
Brown or white
For Wooden structures.
Red or led color
For trimmings of structures
For lanterns & galley railings
For iron structures; and to replace black on outside of all structures.
Red, green, or grown
For outside shutters.
In exceptional cases, to mark the starboard side in entering channels.
On stone and brick work where a change in the natural color is authorized and on rough-board work.
*Whitewash is not to be used on ironwork under any circumstances. All ironwork shall be well primed with red lead before the application of other paint.
Inside Colors
Fore the interior of lanterns, and generally for all interior woodwork except hardwood.
For pedestals & service tables
Lead Color
For floors, staircases, & walls when authorized to be painted. Hard-pined floors & hard woods are not to be painted, but shall be kept well oiled or scrubbed.
For iron staircases & railings, & for interior ironwork in general except pedestals & service tables.
Black or white
Underside of tower stairways.
For walls, cellars, and outhouses, and rough-board work when painted has not been authorized.
*Whitewash is not to be used on ironwork under any circumstances. All ironwork shall be well primed with red lead before the application of other paint.

Revenue Point at Sand Island Lighthouse

Just to the East of Sand Island Lighthouse across the Mobile ship Channel is a submerged shoal known as Revenue Point. To understand why it has this name you must travel back in time with me to around 1790. During this time the United States obtained almost all of its income or "Revenue" from tarriffs placed on items brought into this country aboard ships. These fees were accessed against a ships cargo once it entered the country. The Revenue Point was the point that once a ship sailed past it owed the fees on its imported cargo. Simple huh? This revenue was very important to our government and the formation of a fleet of floating tax collectors was created known as the United States Revenue Cutter service. This Revenue Cutter Service later became what we know today as the U.S. Coast Guard!

The United States Revenue Cutter Service was established by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in 1790 as an armed maritime law enforcement service. Throughout its entire existence the Revenue Cutter Service operated under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury. In 1915 the Service merged with the Lifesaving Service to form the United States Coast Guard.

Ten cutters were initially ordered. Between 1790 and 1798, the Revenue-Marine was the only armed maritime service for the United States. Cutter captains were answerable to and received their sailing orders directly from the Customs Collector of the port to which they were assigned. All crew pay, requests for supplies, arrangements for repairs to the cutter, and mission-specific tasking came directly from the port's Customs House. Standing orders for individual cutters were stated in general terms, allowing captains to exercise their discretion and judgement to the fullest. Captains also had far reaching authority " — to seize vessels and goods in the cases in which they are liable to seizure for breaches of the Revenue laws…" and to send inspection parties aboard vessels already in port, to ensure that cargo intended for export also did not violate Revenue laws. It was specifically directed in Alexander Hamilton's first letter of instruction that captains "…will always keep in mind that their countrymen are freemen, and, as such, are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit… They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty – by address and moderation, rather than by vehemence or violence."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sand Island Lighthouse Double Keepers Dwelling

It was a duplex dwelling 2638Sqft living area (588Sqft Verandas/Porches) 3226Sqft under roof that was of wood construction on Sand Island.
It had a veranda (porch) on the front and rear of the home each supported by seven wooden posts. A wooden railing lined each veranda
The verandas (porches) were 7ft wide by 42ft long.
Each duplex (1319SqFt) had a Kitchen 11ft x 12ft, Storage room 8ft x 6ft, Dining room 12ft x 14ft, Parlor 12ft x 14ft and a closet downstairs. Upstairs were 3 bedrooms, 2ea. 12ft x 14ft in size and one that was 6ft x 5ft 6inch in size. We only call it a bedroom because that is how it was labeled on the original plans.One of the bedrooms had a walk in closet 6ft x 5ft in size and the other had a regular sized closet. The third smallest bedroom upstairs had no closet.
Each duplex had an 8inch x 12 inch chimney in its center.
Water was supplied from a wooden cistern located beside the house. Rain water was collected by capturing the rain running off the roof in copper gutters and routing that into the cistern.
The two kitchens were built along the sides of the house.
All of the windows had working wood shutters
This information was taken from copies of the original plans for the dwelling obtained from the National Archives.

PS We did not forget the bathrooms. Outhouses were used at the time
And each tenant got there own outhouse so they did not have to share.
and another tidbit for you, the hole in the seat was 81/2 inchs in diameter.
We have copies of the original plans for the outhouses. :)
Have a great day
Warren Lee

What are the Sand Island Lighthouse rooms called?

I get this question often. Here are the names of the different areas as taken from the copies of the original plans for Sand Island Lighthouse that we have.

Lantern Room / Lantern Gallery (walkway)

Watch Room / Main Gallery (walkway)

6th landing /(door way) Vestibule/ Service Room

5th landing

4th landing

3rd landing

2nd landing

1st landing


Hall way

west Work room)-----------------( Oil room east

Entrance (south)